There’s no need to elaborate on how important and precious the element of water is for our life. So how is it that we have special blessings for different kinds of foods, yet for water we just make the blessing of “she-ha-kol ni-hi-yah bid-va-ro”—“that everything came into being through His word”?


In Jewish teachings, the creation in general is divided into four elemental categories: fire, air, water and earth.1 The earth, which is the coarsest of the elements, is physically the lowest (found even below water). Next is water which is slightly more refined, followed by air which hovers above the water, and finally fire, which constantly strives to go higher.

The Kabbalists teach that within every creation there is an “utterance of G‑d's mouth,” a spark that is the energy of its creation. However, the spark is static, bereft of the capacity to advance creation's quest to unite with its Creator. When a person recites a blessing before eating, he arouses these sparks to reunite with their Creator.

The blessings on food were instituted to correspond to the quality of sustenance they provide, which correlates with the kind of Divine spark that is within it.

Water, a more ethereal element, does not actually provide sustenance. A person eats food for the nutrients it provides. On the other hand, a person drinks water mainly to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for these nutrients to be distributed throughout the body.2

This is in keeping with the concept that the higher something is spiritually, the lower it falls. This means that the lower and coarser the element, the higher the source of its sparks, and in the case of food, the more qualitative the nourishment. The fact that water is a higher and more refined element, signifies its lower spiritual source, as a result of which it is unable provide actual nutrients to the body.

It is for this reason the sages did not institute a special blessing for water, since it does not have the same type of energy and “spark” that food—which originates from the earth—does have. However, we still make the blessing She-ha-kol,3 “That everything came into being through His word,” since, after all, water is something that is created through G‑d’s word.4

Please note that when drinking water, if one is not thirsty or does not need it to cool off, he or she would not make a blessing at all, since there is no physical need or pleasure derived from the drinking.5

Please see our section on Food Blessings.

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin
Ask the Rabbi @ the Judaism Website